resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
February, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 02
Orthopedic Massage vs. Medical Massage: Are We Using the Correct Terminology?
By James Waslaski
Several weeks ago, after discussing my mother's "medical" condition with her surgeon, I realized how vital it is for our profession to establish the differences between medical and orthopedic massage.My mother had a critical medical condition called a dissecting aortic aneurysm, in which she exhibited low back pain symptoms, similar to someone with a tight iliopsoas. The medical doctor expected kidney problems, but - through divine intervention - an MRI discovered the massive aneurysm near the bifurcation of the femoral arteries, and it was ready to burst. I thank God each day that she did not go to someone minimally trained in medical or orthopedic massage, because an attempt to release her iliopsoas would have ruptured the aneurysm, and she likely would have died on the massage table.
However, a year prior to discovering the aneurysm, my mother had an "orthopedic" condition called iliotibial band friction syndrome that presented as lateral right-knee pain; through the release of the gluteus maximus, the TFL, and other tight muscles around the knee, surgery was avoided, and she is pain-free one year later, thanks to proper stretching techniques.
Orthopedic massage involves therapeutic assessment, manipulation and movement of locomotor soft tissue to reduce pain and dysfunction. Restoring structural balance throughout the body allows us to focus on both prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal dysfunctions. I hope for this to be one of many articles on the differences between orthopedic and medical massage so that there is more consistency within the profession on the use of the terms. It is my strong opinion that misusing the term "medical massage" will build a wall between massage therapists and other health care professionals who spend many years studying medical conditions that are quite different from orthopedic conditions. After spending almost 20 years in a trauma center, I have seen thousands of medical and orthopedic conditions. As massage therapists, there are several potential dilemmas we face when we claim to perform medical massage. For example:
I am concerned about organizations that claim to "certify" massage therapists in medical massage in as few as three days. Doctors - especially chiropractors - frequently ask me how a massage therapist with as little as 300-500 hours of training can become certified in assessing and treating medical conditions in one weekend. I tell them that many educators and therapists in our industry misuse the term "medical massage" because it is the current "buzz word." In other words, it sells seminars and sounds very clinical when used in practice and on business cards. But there are longer, more comprehensive massage programs out there that train students in medical settings and discuss the signs and symptoms of various medical conditions, and if you are already trained as a nurse, doctor, or in another medical specialty, you can see the big picture much more clearly.
In my opinion, orthopedic massage is much more appropriate when we are treating musculoskeletal pain conditions or sports injuries. Its objectives are to restore structural balance in the muscle groups throughout the body, and decompress arthritic or painful joints. Muscle groups shorten, due to prolonged poor posture or repetitive motions, and shortened muscle groups need to be stretched out or they will pull bones onto nerves and blood vessels, and cause or contribute to all sorts of orthopedic conditions. I believe that conditions like joint arthritis are symptoms that result from tight muscles around a joint; thus, thoracic outlet and carpal tunnel syndrome are actually orthopedic conditions.
In thoracic outlet, our goal is to lengthen short muscle groups, such as the anterior and posterior scalenes, the pectoralis minor, and any supporting muscles that compress nerves in the neck and shoulder and cause weakness and radiating pain into the arm or hand. Carpal tunnel can often be effectively treated by lengthening the pronator teres and the flexors of the wrist, and assuring the carpal bones are in alignment. Achilles tendonitis would be best addressed by lengthening the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. In my opinion, it is truly orthopedic massage when we work to restore range-of-motion, balance out muscle groups surrounding the joints to treat pain, and work to prevent and rehabilitate injuries that involve muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments. Orthopedic massage is also great for performance enhancement.
However, medical conditions can mask and/or complicate orthopedic conditions. For example, a woman in her third trimester of pregnancy may have excessive swelling in her wrists, adding to the tight muscles and tendons in the wrist area requiring medical assistance, perhaps also requiring the use of a diuretic (if not contraindicated) or lymphatic drainage to reduce inflammation. There are functional assessment tests that can determine most orthopedic conditions and outline a treatment plan using multiple modalities. These assessment skills better align you with other orthopedic experts, including orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, physical therapists and osteopaths.
I also believe that combining multiple disciplines allows better results. One patient may respond better to CranioSacral Therapy, while another requires lymphatic drainage, and the next needs a combination of myofascial release, neuromuscular therapy and stretching. (I will touch more on a multidisciplinary approach in a future article.) Lastly, patients need to be actively involved in their own treatment by perhaps changing the ergonomics of the work environment, watching their posture, using good body mechanics, and doing specific stretches and exercises between treatments.
I would briefly like to address one other concern about the current state of the massage profession. I came from Florida and trained with many of the leaders in our industry. I also took college courses in pathology, biomechanics, anatomy and physiology, then took years of workshops to prevent "tunnel vision" into any one discipline from occurring. In Florida, the base training starts at 500-600 hours and becomes more advanced.
In Texas (where I now live), a person can be a practicing and certified massage therapist with 300 hours. I recently attended a great insurance billing seminar here in Texas; what frustrated me, however, was that many of the attendees had only 300 hours of training. Even if these therapists learned to use the insurance billing codes properly, it is unlikely that after only 300 hours of training, they could ethically support their treatment and billing claims without additional training. I also see claims to "certify" these therapists in medical massage without administering a written and practical exam. No wonder the medical community looks down on us!
I hope I have put a bit of fear into massage therapists that may still have a long way to go to understand that all medical conditions do not fall under plain and simple treatment protocols learned in a basic medical massage training program. As a profession, I suggest we work to distinguish medical conditions from orthopedic conditions to better align ourselves with other medical experts.
I look forward to seeing how the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork defines an advanced-level therapist, once it moves to a higher level of certification, and is confident that the process includes a large panel of experts in role delineation and item-writing processes. I also hope that more schools and educators can agree on whether we should call our work clinical massage, orthopedic massage or simply an all-inclusive term like medical massage.
Click here for previous articles by James Waslaski.
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